Before I got totally hooked, unable to stay lucid without three or four hits a day, the main draw was how it made me feel: #smooth, #woke, rather #cool. But then, within just a year, I needed stronger, more frequent shots and Instant Nescafe never satisfied me properly again. I moved to Davidoff and soon afterwards became a regular at my neighbourhood Costa, where I’d buy a short mocha everyday. #notinstantcoffee #instacoffee
When too many Costas in Delhi began to close down I became uneasy. I decided I had to have the next best thing, and so, amid searches for exotic Peruvian dishes and protein shakes that claimed to grow muscles with minimal physical effort, I got Googling for substitute options. And there were so many now. There was Coffee Bean and Tealeaf, and Blue Tokai, and Sleepy Owl, in addition to the old Café Coffee Day and Barista. And of course, there was Starbucks; which even though not my first choice, it’s where I’m now, standing in line between a guy flipping through Tinder profiles and a girl furiously WhatsApping, while I myself scroll down my Facebook Newsfeed: each one of us scratching the surface of our most recently acquired appendage in this present state of human advance.
There’s an anti-Trump article in The New York Times and another one about our Government’s accomplishments in The Economic Times. (Information, opinion, misinformation, there is so much of it all these days and it’s hard to tell which is which, particularly when you can’t even bother to click on a headline.) Then a round of pouty selfies of a boy flexing his gym-fresh muscles. And then an article linked by my mother on the powers of Pranic Healing.
It’s all pretty standard, expected, not exceptional, but nevertheless I carry on scrolling.
Ah! Finally, something interesting: a video on Dan Dan noodles. What deft blade strokes! The sizzle of garlic frying in a wok, the on-point delivery. I am rapt.
You see, I’m food obsessed. So much so that if you were to ask my friends they’d tell you, he takes pictures of all his meals. (Not true! I take one only every couple of days.) And can you really blame me given that my phone, which knows things about me better than I myself do, is always on hand? Like it knows I can’t stop myself from clicking on food related thingies (reviews, pictures, recipes) and so it fills my virtual space with them, all the time. And I think I’m quite normal in this regard, too. Seriously. Because nowadays everybody has a ‘thing’ and it just so happens that mine is food.
It’s my turn and I look up. “Sir, would you like Tall or Grande?”
They never suggest the small option. “The smallest, please.”
“Do you have a Starbucks card?”
“If you get a Starbucks card….”
I’ve been through this routine hundreds of times before and I hold up my phone. “Look! I have Zomato and I collect points at Nandos. I’m a member of EatTreat, Foodtalk India and two other groups. I think that’s enough.” I don’t mention that I also follow videos of Buzzfeed and Gobble on Facebook, of Foodwishes and Maangchi on Youtube, and get feeds by Nigella and Gary Mehigan on Instagram. And since I saw Chef’s Table on Netflix, of Ivan Orkin, too.
The server laughs and I go back to tapping my computerized limb. “Sir, your name?”
But before I can answer him again I have a flash of truth—it is the kind that can come only in my present state, overpowered as I am by the smell of coffee and perfume, my eyes and ears brimming with electronic chatter–and it is that we, we urbanite millennials, all want the exact same things in life. And they aren’t contentment, tranquility or inner peace.
Oh, no. We want frothy cappuccinos, sharp beard-cuts and the smartest phones. Continue reading Am I Losing The Real Me?